Jimmy White defeated Russia’s Ivan Kakovskii 6-3 on the first day of Betfred World Championship qualifying at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.
White’s last appearance at the Crucible came back in 2006. However, the legendary six-time World Championship runner-up has appeared in the final round of qualifying twice since then.
In a tense encounter this evening, White was unable to shake off his 21-year-old opponent in the early parts of the match. With the score at 4-3, the Whirlwind summoned breaks of 54 and 58 to get over the line with two frames to spare. Next up White faces Cypriot Michael Georgiou, who must win the match to stand any chance of tour survival.
White, age 58, said: “Because I am so revved up, I have been practising hard and playing good players. I’ve been producing good stuff on a daily basis. When you come to a tournament where you want to win so bad and you make so many unforced errors, it is mindblowing.
“If I beat Michael Georgiou I’ve got to beat Rob Milkins and then probably Jimmy Robertson. I might have got ahead of myself today and it could have cost me, he potted some good balls. I’ve got to stay focussed throughout the whole game against Michael Georgiou.”
Andy Hicks overcame 12-time women’s World Champion Reanne Evans 6-3 to reach the second round.
Hicks regained his place as a professional on the circuit at the start of this season, after successfully negotiating Q School.
The Devon cueman has appeared at Crucible on eight occasions, including a trip to the semi-finals on his debut in 1995. He will face Sam Craigie in the next round this week, as he continues his bid for a first trip to the Theatre of Dreams since 2007.
Hicks said: “It’s the only thing that motivates me. That’s probably why I struggled a bit today, the World Championship means everything. I’ve been to the semi-finals, albeit many years ago. Of course I’d like to do well and that’s why I put added pressure on myself because this is the biggest event of the year.
“Sam’s a good player, but they are all good players. I just have to play my own game, play better than I have done today obviously. If I play like I know I can then I can beat anybody.”
Allan Taylor booked his progression with an impressive 6-1 defeat of Iran’s Soheil Vahedi. He now faces Welshman Lee Walker in round two.
Welshman Kishan Hirani staged a dramatic fightback to beat Finland’s Robin Hull 6-5. Hirani had trailed 5-1 before claiming five frames on the bounce, including breaks of 58 and 70, to book a second round meeting with Louis Heathcote.
It was a good day for snooker’s young talent as three teenage amateurs scored victories. Antoni Kowalski, the 16-year-old Polish national champion, scored a superb 6-4 win over David Lilley. English 19-year-old amateur Hayden Staniland secured his progression with a fine 6-1 win over Riley Parsons, while Chinese 16-year-old Wu Yize beat WSF Open winner Ashley Hugill 6-4.